One of the more questionable moves of the NHL offseason was the Minnesota Wild and their signing of noted goon Matt Cooke. It wasn’t so much the fact that they signed him as it was that they signed him to a quite lucrative three-year pact.
Cooke is one of the truly noted scum in the National Hockey League. Every time he appears to have changed his ways and graduated to a more controlled style, he ends up flashing his true colors. Just ask Adam McQuaid. That doesn’t mean that he can’t be a positive presence for the Wild, though.
There’s never really been any question that Cooke has had skill. He’s the type of player that you can actually play with skill position players and he can add that grit aspect to a skilled line. However, his penchant for poorly timed penalties and illegal checks has limited his opportunities in such a situation.
That’s the risk you take when you employ a guy like Matt Cooke, though. We’ve seen him play under control for long stretches. He’s a guy capable of putting a few pucks in the net, generating a forecheck, helping to shift momentum, etc. He does a lot of things well. He undoes all of it with his lack of ability to play under control at all times, though.
Cooke has vowed on more than one occasion that he’s trying to change his game. He made that vow prior to a couple of incidents last year, but played well in 2011-12. Considering his past, he’s been relatively tame in the last two years. If he can continue on the path he’s started down, he’ll be good to go.
And he’ll be an asset to the Wild. A controlled Cooke gives the Wild a potentially dangerous third line, with the likes of Torrey Mitchell and Kyle Brodziak. That’s a trio that could make life difficult for opponents, and would score their fair share of goals as well. It’s just a matter of keeping under control.